When two lives meet at the fork in the road.
I dropped out of college after my junior year. I was barely 21-years old. My best friend graduated from college at the age of 37, receiving a degree in a dual B.S./MBA program SMU in Dallas, Texas almost two years ago. At the age of 44-years old, I haven’t looked back at college. Some people are made for it. I wasn’t.
I moved to another state with a company I had been working for, for over twenty years. Somehow, I meshed well with the people, but I am an extreme introvert. Sometimes I wonder if I am autistic. The older I get, the more uncomfortable I am in social situations. My best friend is the same way.
I suffered during the pandemic. I was almost homeless. I lived in hostiles from the latter part of 2020 until March of 2021, barely having enough money for food. I was miserable. My best friend lived in AirBnB’s, saving his money, and he was content with eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day.
On September 22, 2020, my life changed and my path to success started. After COVID, I changed careers and started from scratch to learn a new trade. Being an aggressive achiever catapulted me into a promotion almost six months after I was hired.
On December 20, 2021, my best friend quit his warehouse job, not happy with how life turned out after graduation. He also blames not performing well during interviews, as to why he hasn’t found a better job. He’s frustrated with life. He refuses to associate with his classmates or anyone.
I volunteered hours to help him, making myself available in every capacity, and even going as far as attempting to get him hired at my job. He declined.
He asked for my opinion, and me being one to be brutally honest I told him about the mistake he was making quitting his job and chasing some girl. He couldn’t accept the truth. He is the classic narcissist.
He wouldn’t accept the truth. I text him as usual. Texts during the holiday season were ignored. On the 10th of January, he reached out to me asking for a loan payback. I obliged because after all, he helped me when I was in a bind years ago.
I paid the final payment on the 20th. I asked the next day if he received it, and my inquiry was met with a single-word answer.
I asked if we were okay and he proceeded to let me know that he wasn’t talking to anyone these days. He was shutting everyone out so he could concentrate on himself.
As much as it pained me to type a reply to that, I thought about my own journey. Despite wanting to stay in a depressive funk, I surrounded myself with happy, smiling people so their joy could rub off on me. During Hurricane Ida, I spent those seven days without electricity reading Higher is Waiting by Tyler Perry. Perry compared friendships to trees.
The tree has mostly one purpose: to provide shade. In friendships, certain people have one purpose. Some friends are to make you laugh. Some friends are to be your support system. Some friends are to remind you of what life was like way back when.
I prayed before I sent my last and final text to a man who I admired because he didn’t give up on his journey to be the first in his family to graduate from college. I could have been bitchy and cold, which has been my usual go to in the past, but I thought about parting words and how they can have dire consequences when you don’t know someone’s mental state. My departing words were firm but piercing.
“Okay, well…I am going to state this, then I am going to give you your “space” permanently and leave you alone. Do note I have always been a friend, but I don’t need to state that. You have always known that. Life is not perfect. Life will never be perfect. We all go through good moments in our life. The bad moments that leave us in limbo are the true test of our resilience as individuals. You fall. You get back up and try again. You are in the midst of your search. Hopefully, you find what you’re looking for in a job, in happiness, and in life. I hope you realize that appearances aren’t important. I hope you realize and value people for who they are on the inside and not what they appear to be on the outside. Things will never be perfect. Searching for perfection is searching for a unicorn. It just doesn’t exist. Good luck to you in life. Be proud of yourself for being a college graduate with a Master’s.”